Writing and the Writer’s Life

Any person who has ever taken an introductory creative writing course has heard this advice: “write about what you know.” Ironically, the very next advice seems to be “write about what you don’t know.” The instructors think they’re clever, but I can’t count how many times I’ve heard this.

You can’t accurately write about something you know nothing about, so write about experiences in your own life. You saw, heard, and felt them in vivid detail. It shouldn’t be too hard to describe them that way. Think of the people, the places, the emotions. It’s all fair game for a story.

But on the other hand, your life is boring. The majority of us are painfully average, you know. So don’t write to us about your daily grind, about how you got your mail or did your laundry. We don’t care to hear it and you hardly care to live it.

Okay, so this doesn’t mean you have to write fantasy or science fiction. Those are my favorite genres, but not every story needs to have magical and mystical happenings. Rather, consider what elements you can take from your own life to add to a more exciting content. You can cut out people, places, feelings, and then plant them in the context of adventure and intrigue. A masterful writer can make any situation worth reading, but don’t make it so hard on yourself.

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